Hendricks vs. Lawler: A Complete Guide to Full UFC 171 Fight Card

Scott Harris@ScottHarrisMMAMMA Lead WriterMarch 10, 2014

Hendricks vs. Lawler: A Complete Guide to Full UFC 171 Fight Card

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    Johny Hendricks
    Johny HendricksIsaac Brekken/Associated Press

    The UFC is doing its best to pretend it doesn't remember that Georges St-Pierre ever existed. 

    Luckily, it has two pretty hot commodities helping it rebound from the heartache.

    It had to hurt to lose GSP, not only the UFC welterweight champion but its biggest pay-per-view attraction and brightest star. You could tell in the promotion's reaction to the breakup: It proclaimed that the machine would crank on unabated. It'd fill the void.

    Now, a couple months after St-Pierre took his indefinite leave and vacated his title, here are Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler. Both are enjoying big success in the UFC. Both have super-sexy knockout-seeking styles. Either would be perfectly serviceable arm candy on which one could drape one's suddenly ownerless golden finery. 

    We will see if they can justify the love in the main event of UFC 171, going down Saturday from Dallas. It's just the topmost point of a stacked slate, which carries intrigue from Fight Pass to finale.

    Here are information capsules, predictions and viewing coordinates for all 13 contests on the card.

Daniel Pineda vs. Robert Whiteford

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    Daniel Pineda
    Daniel PinedaGregory Payan/Associated Press

    Division: Featherweight
    Records: Daniel Pineda (18-10), Robert Whiteford (10-2)
    See it on: UFC Fight Pass (subscription required)

    Pineda has the random distinction of being, along with Diego Brandao, the first man to fight on Fox Sports 1. And now here he is kicking off the UFC 171 action on UFC Fight Pass. There's so much symmetry there, know what I mean?

    Pineda is a journeyman for all seasons, separating wheat from chaff in the UFC trenches for more than two years now. He doesn't mind a good scrap and is a dangerous extremity hunter, aggressive to the point of recklessness. 

    The Scotsman Whiteford, 30, probably won't have the skills to capitalize. He only has one UFC fight on his record, and it was a loss by way of, that's right, submission. Saturday night, Whiteford will stumble into "The Pit," from whence there is no escape. At least not for him.

    Prediction: Pineda, submission, Rd. 1

Robert 'Bubba' McDaniel vs. Sean Strickland

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    Bubba McDaniel
    Bubba McDanielPat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

    Division: Middleweight
    Records: Robert "Bubba" McDaniel (21-7), Sean Strickland (13-0)
    See it on: UFC Fight Pass (subscription required)

    This was originally set to be matchup of two semiviable contestants from The Ultimate Fighter 17, in a battle to determine who between them might be fully viable. 

    But this is much better.

    After Tor Troeng pulled out with injury, Bubba is looking a bit like an offering to the prospect gods after the UFC moved in Sean Strickland, an undefeated 23-year-old ground-and-pound wrecking ball who has long been considered one of the sport's top middleweight prospects. He also was a long-reigning champion at King of the Cage. Is that the same as the UFC? Nope. But it's not like he was crushing tomato cans behind the Piggly Wiggly either.

    McDaniel is a tenacious veteran with solid wrestling, but he won't be able to outlast or overpower Strickland. He also is rather chinny, and that could be chum on the water.

    Prediction: Strickland, TKO, Rd. 2

Will Campuzano vs. Justin Scoggins

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    Will Campuzano
    Will CampuzanoStephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sp

    Division: Flyweight
    Records: Will Campuzano (13-5), Justin Scoggins (8-0)
    See it on: UFC Fight Pass (subscription required)

    Campuzano was a fair-to-middlin UFC fighter. But that was before the flyweight division.

    After his release in 2011, Campuzano worked his way back up the regional ranks at 125 pounds, eventually capturing and holding the flyweight title in Texas-based Legacy Fighting Championship.

    He returned to the Octagon in November but lost a tough fight at bantamweight to uber-phenom Sergio Pettis. Oh, and he also took the bout on one week's notice.

    So you can almost give him a mulligan on that one. This is his UFC flyweight debut. It's coming against a pretty tough headhunter in Scoggins, but Campuzano is a big flyweight (he'll have four inches on Scoggins) and a very dangerous and creative striker in his own right. His length and experience should make the difference.

    Prediction: Campuzano, unanimous decision

Renee Forte vs. Frank Trevino

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    Renee Forte
    Renee ForteTom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sport

    Division: Lightweight
    Records: Renee Forte (8-3), Frank Trevino (11-0)
    See it on: UFC Fight Pass (subscription required)

    The last time I saw Renee Forte, I was having a hard time differentiating him from John Makdessi. Do we all need beards, guys? Every single one of us?

    Forte eventually lost to Makdessi by knockout. Trevino—along with Campuzano, one of two Mexican-born fighters to appear in Dallas—is making his UFC debut at age 32 and could give Forte a similar fate. Then again, Forte could do the same. 

    Both of these men have chops in each phase but are strikers first. I'm predicting a sort of shapeless pub brawl with Forte eventually hurting (if not finishing) Trevino to get back in the green.

    Prediction: Forte, unanimous decision

Sean Spencer vs. Alex Garcia

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    Alex Garcia
    Alex GarciaChris Hyde/Getty Images

    Division: Welterweight
    Records: Alex Garcia (11-1), Sean Spencer (11-2)
    See it on: Fox Sports 1

    When it comes to rising welterweight stars, Brandon Thatch has received the red-carpet treatment. I'd like to throw a little extra shine on Tristar's Alex Garcia.

    Only one fight in the UFC so far, but it was a 43-second knockout. That is pretty good. 

    As far as game goes, think Hector Lombard. He's a fire hydrant of a man who brings a power-grappling base to the party, but what he really loves to do is clench his fists and then use those fists to bludgeon his opponent's head and facial areas.

    That's what will happen with Spencer. Garcia by bludgeoning. 

    Prediction: Garcia, TKO, Rd. 2


Dennis Bermudez vs. Jimy Hettes

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    Dennis Bermudez
    Dennis BermudezJoshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports

    Division: Featherweight
    Records: Dennis Bermudez (12-3), Jimy Hettes (11-1)
    See it on: Fox Sports 1

    Bermudez is sitting at No. 12 in the official UFC featherweight rankings. A win over Hettes might get him past the psychological barrier that is the top 10, but it won't get him much farther.

    There's also the small matter of fact that Hettes is a tenacious opponent. He lost some steam in the past 18 months with a loss to Marcus Brimage and then an injury, then regained some of it with a win over the aforementioned Whiteford. But I'm not thinking that's a good precursor to Bermudez, a huge featherweight with great wrestling and ever-improving standup.

    A win would get Bermudez to six straight wins in the UFC. Maybe then he'll get a real contender too.

    Prediction: Bermudez, unanimous decision


Raquel Pennington vs. Jessica Andrade

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    Jessica Andrade (left)
    Jessica Andrade (left)Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

    Division: Women's bantamweight
    Records: Raquel Pennington (4-3), Jessica Andrade (10-3)
    See it on: Fox Sports 1

    Pennington was always supposed to be a beast. She was feared on The Ultimate Fighter and was seemingly considered a UFC no-brainer no matter what.

    But the evidence to date hasn't born out the theory. A loss in the show's semifinals to Jessica Rakoczy didn't help. Neither did a tepid, almost default-ish win over Roxanne Modafferi. 

    She has power in her hands and she can land some submissions. She's a good fighter. But she can trend toward sloppiness, and the sky-high expectations just haven't been justified quite yet.

    And they'll need to be against an excellent young Brazilian in Andrade, who can do everything well and is coming off the good end of the biggest beatdown in the history of women's fighting in the UFC.

    To be honest, I think Andrade will take this one home after a frenetic slugfest that again finds Pennington wanting.

    Prediction: Andrade, unanimous decision

Kelvin Gastelum vs. Rick Story

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    Kelvin Gastelum
    Kelvin GastelumPat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

    Division: Welterweight
    Records: Kelvin Gastelum (7-0), Rick Story (16-7)
    See it on: Fox Sports 1

    Welcome to the prelim main event and to one of the best stories going in the UFC today.

    First a TUF title, then a win over Brian Melancon in his welterweight debut. Now Gastelum, a former underdog, won't be sneaking up on anyone again. He seems to realize that, given that he called out Story for this matchup.

    Call-out successful. Now we'll see what two hardscrabble wrestlers can do against each other. We've known about Story's stone hands for a while, but against Brian Ebersole he provided he's got some granite feet too.

    Nevertheless, I'm sticking with Gastelum. I think he'll be the bigger fighter when they step into the cage, I think he'll be stronger and I think he'll smother Story in the clinch or even on the ground. I also think I'm done underestimating Kelvin Gastelum.

    Prediction: Gastelum, unanimous decision 

Ovince St. Preux vs. Nikita Krylov

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    Nikita Krylov (left) faces Soa Palelei last summer.
    Nikita Krylov (left) faces Soa Palelei last summer.Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

    Division: Light heavyweight
    Records: Nikita Krylov (16-3), Ovince St. Preux (14-5)
    See it on: Pay-per-view

    I could be wrong, but it seems Krylov has more buzz coming into this matchup. And I get it, or at least I don't fully not get it. He's a headhunter and he dresses like Al Capone on his way to the cage. I think that fully completes the UFC star-turn checklist.

    It's a little strange, though, because St. Preux is the better, more-tested fighter. He was originally scheduled to face Thiago Silva in this event—you know, before the domestic assault charges and what not. That would have been a more appropriate test, especially given that this is Krylov's first UFC fight at light heavyweight.

    That said, this should be a fun fight. Unless it goes past the first round, in which case both men will gas, in which gas it will get sloppy fast.

    Prediction: St. Preux, TKO, Rd. 1 

Jake Shields vs. Hector Lombard

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    Hector Lombard
    Hector LombardChris Hyde/Getty Images

    Division: Welterweight
    Records: Hector Lombard (33-4-1), Jake Shields (29-6-1)
    See it on: Pay-per-view

    For all those secretly hoping to see Jake Shields one day get knocked into next week, this could very well be your fight.

    The playbook here is clear. Shields will play that decidedly non-telegenic style of his, working to push Lombard into the fence and tire him out by forcing Lombard to carry his weight. Lombard will try to put a hole in Shields' face. 

    Lombard has the sheer power and the grappling acumen, theoretically, to get out or stay out of Shield's Velcro clutches. He'll probably try to finish this one early, and I think he'll be successful.

    Prediction: Lombard, TKO, Rd. 1

Diego Sanchez vs. Myles Jury

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    Diego Sanchez
    Diego SanchezAndrew Richardson-USA TODAY Spor

    Division: Lightweight
    Records: Diego Sanchez (24-6), Myles Jury (13-0)
    See it on: Pay-per-view

    Four of Diego Sanchez's past five fights earned Fight of the Night honors. How many more of those does he have left in him? It's likely no one wants to admit it, seeing as Sanchez is an instant one-man dose of fight-card adrenaline, but at 32 and after all those wars he likely is working on a clock.

    The undefeated Jury is almost the pure opposite. At age 25, he's 4-0 and on his way up in the UFC. He's also a more careful fighter, one who looks for the finish but isn't afraid to embrace the grind, as Mike Goldberg likes to awesomely say.

    Here's guessing Jury is aware that fireworks are a good thing. So he'll play a dangerous game of chicken, wading into the pocket with Sanchez but keeping a clinch or takedown in the hopper. 

    I think it will backfire. To quote another cliche, Sanchez will fight his fight, and he'll turn back Jury at the gate. Sound the upset alarms.

    Prediction: Sanchez, TKO, Rd. 1

Carlos Condit vs. Tyron Woodley

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    Carlos Condit
    Carlos ConditPat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

    Division: Welterweight
    Records: Carlos Condit (29-7), Tyron Woodley (12-2)
    See it on: Pay-per-view

    Tyron Woodley has never faced anyone as dangerous as Carlos Condit.

    There are two different Woodleys: the wrestler and the knockout artist. He'd be safer, if less inspiring, in the former role Saturday night. He can put Condit on his back and punish him there while neutralizing Condit's famous dynamic muay thai.

    It's not going to work. Condit is very dangerous from his back, has good takedown defense and, unlike Woodley, doesn't tire easily. Condit will dodge Woodley's big right hand, get the better of any ground scrambles and fend off takedowns (especially down the stretch) to get the better of the bigger man.

    Prediction: Condit, unanimous decision

Johny Hendricks vs. Robbie Lawler

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    Johny Hendricks
    Johny HendricksStephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sp

    Division: Welterweight (for vacant UFC welterweight championship)
    Records: Johny Hendricks (15-2), Robbie Lawler (22-9)
    See it on: Pay-per-view

    The two men are pretty comparable in the standup department. Both are very powerful and both tend to rely mainly on boxing. Lawler probably has a slightly tighter and more diverse striking game, but it's not a wide chasm.

    With wrestling, it's just a tiny bit different. If you were a national champion in that sport, raise your hand. Now keep it raised. Hendricks, is that you? Yes, it is. That's the guy I'm picking.

    Sometimes in fighting, it's just that simple. Hendricks all day with the takedowns and the clinch and the ground-and-pound. We have a new champion.

    Prediction: Hendricks, unanimous decision 

    Scott Harris writes about MMA for Bleacher Report. For more, follow Scott on Twitter.